The New York Times keeps hammering away at the daily fantasy scandal, this time by casting some serious doubt on FanDuel’s and DraftKings’ assertions that their employees didn’t enjoy any insider benefits while playing daily fantasy games on rival sites.
The Times’ story begins with an anecdote from Madison Calvert, a daily fantasy player who began questioning the game’s integrity while at a private party hosted by DraftKings. From the Times:
At a private party for DraftKings, one of the biggest daily fantasy websites, Calvert said, he discussed his baseball contest choices with a host, Jon Aguiar, an executive of the site, who suddenly made a quick check on his phone and, to Calvert’s surprise, informed him that his pick of a pitcher was a poor choice because many other players had selected him.
“I shouldn’t have pulled that up in front of you, ha-ha,” Calvert said Aguiar told him.
That was days after Calvert, 29, had repeatedly been challenged for head-to-head play in another game, on the website FanDuel, by a Rick Sawyer. After checking a search engine, Calvert said, he found that Sawyer was actually a business planning manager at DraftKings.
Calvert’s story suggests that employees had ready access to insider lineup information—the same info that DraftKings employee Ethan Haskell accidentally leaked before winning $350,000 on FanDuel—and could thus use that information to gain a substantial edge while playing on other sites. In fact, the prospect of making a lot of money at rival daily fantasy sites has apparently been an actual perk of working for these companies! From the Times:
Last month at a conference at Babson College near Boston, a DraftKings founder, Paul Liberman, said barring employees from playing could make it difficult to retain talent.
“We have some people who make significantly more money off of our competitors’ sites than they do working for DraftKings,” he said.
The Times also cites two employees of DraftKings and FanDuel who made substantial amounts of money playing on rival sites this year. Andre Bessette, a manger of analytics at DraftKings, won $50,000 playing daily fantasy hockey on FanDuel. Matthew Boccio is responsible for setting player prices on FanDuel, and recently won $50,000 in a DraftKings contest.
Meanwhile, DraftKings and FanDuel just enjoyed their biggest weekend yet, raking in $43.6 million in entry fees.